9 Ovarian Cancer Myths You Need to Know | Homage

9 Ovarian Cancer Myths You Need to Know

Cervical cancer is the 2nd most frequent cancer among women in Malaysia but do you know it is highly preventable? Let us debunk some myths and facts surrounding this HPV-linked cancer.

by Katherine Khaw

Ovarian cancer is a cancer that occurs in the ovaries. Ovaries are a pair of organs belonging to the female body, producing eggs and hormones. It has been determined to be the 4th most common cancer among Malaysian women, with a rate of 7.6 in a 100,000 population. In this article, we will learn in greater detail what this disease is about, along with myths and facts surrounding it.

Ovarian Cancer Stigma

Cancers are often a hushed topic even though there is a need for awareness, due to its severity or implication in a person’s life. However, gynaecological cancers have a stigma in which people may falsely assume it to arise from sexual promiscuity. This can cause women to be less willing to check with the local doctor for potentially life-saving treatment.

As the symptoms of ovarian cancer may also look like changes due to a sexually transmitted disease or the age of menopause, this has contributed to the lack of knowledge about the disease.

Differences between Ovarian Cancer and Cervical Cancer

While both of these cancers affect the female reproductive system, the way it begins differs. Nonetheless, they may share similar symptoms at the beginning.

These are some of the differences present in the following cancers:

  • Location of the cancer’s beginning. For ovarian cancer, it begins in the ovaries or the fallopian tubes, which are located at the uterus’ sides. Meanwhile, cervical cancer begins in the cervix.
  • Risk factor and causes of cancer. While the cause for ovarian cancer has not been determined, cervical cancer is usually caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infections.
  • Diagnosis method. Ovarian cancer does not have a particular screening method. Meanwhile, regular gynaecological exams such as pap smears and HPV tests can screen for cervical cancers. Meanwhile, both types of cancers would require biopsies for the diagnosis.
  • Treatment and chances of recovery. Normally, surgery and chemotherapy are the methods for treatment. Cervical cancer can also be treated with radiation therapy. Cervical cancer is more preventable than ovarian cancer.

How Common is Ovarian Cancer in Malaysia?

This cancer, according to the National Cancer Registry, is a common one among women. It makes up about five percent of female cancer cases in Malaysia. These are the common type of ovarian cancer to occur in women:

  • Epithelial ovarian cancer. This type is present in most cases, accounting up to 90 percent. It begins in the cells covering the ovary and the abdominal cavity.
  • Germ cell ovarian cancer. Affecting women in their 20s and teenage girls, this cancer begins in the egg-producing cells in the ovaries.
  • Sex cord-stromal ovarian cancer. This cancer is often discovered in Stage 1. This occurs in the connective tissue of the ovaries, which produces the female sex hormones.

9 Ovarian Cancer Myths vs Facts

This article seeks to take a look at the common myths surrounding ovarian cancer. With this, may you be better informed regarding the illness.

Myth #1: The Symptoms Are Too Subtle

Fact: Not True

Although it has been shared that ovarian cancer does not have a particular screening method, this does not mean that you cannot catch the symptoms. These are some of the changes to note, if they persist for two weeks or come on suddenly: feeling bloated, an unusual cramp, more frequent constipation, more frequent heartburn, pain during sex, or aches in the back and abdomen. It is important to keep watch on what happens during the menstruation cycle, even if it is irregular or bleeding between periods.

Myth #2: Ovarian Cysts Are A Type Of Cancer

Fact: Not True

Generally, most women who ovulate form cysts in their ovaries. These are often benign and will go away without requiring any treatment. When ovarian cancer occurs, it is usually on the outside surface cells of the ovaries. Sometimes it also forms in the cells that make the eggs. Nonetheless, if you are feeling abnormal and a cyst is found, there will be a discussion on its malignancy if it is relevant.

Myth #3: A Person Without A Family HIstory of Ovarian Cancer Is Clear

Fact: Not True

Although persons with a family history of ovarian cancer are at a greater risk, only one-tenth of ovarian cancers are attributed to this risk factor. While the common reason for why women get ovarian cancer remains unknown, ageing and endometriosis is likely to be a risk factor.

Myth #4: Ovarian Cancer Cannot Be Cured

Fact: Not True

When the cancer is detected in the early stages, there is actually a good outlook. The survival rate for five years is around 94 percent. Not only that, as the medical field is constantly innovating, there are new targeted therapies that can help these women. If one treatment plan is not responsive, another option is available. Although the chances of survival decrease with the disease’s progression, it is still possible for a person to survive and overcome the cancer.

Myth #5: Only Older Women Develop Ovarian Cancer

Fact: Not True

Although age is considered a possible risk factor for ovarian cancer, especially women going through menopause, younger women are also affected. About 80% of cases affect women above 50 years old, but the remaining are younger women. Generally, the ovarian cancer affecting these women are germ cell tumours and more.

Myth #6: Talcum Powder Causes Ovarian Cancer

Fact: Not True

While there has been an ongoing speculation that applying talcum powder to the female genital area could travel through the reproductive tract, leading to inflammation and ovarian cancer, this is not the case. Based on the combined results of four cohort studies involving 250,000 women, of whom 2,168 developed ovarian cancer, there was no significant statistical association between the two groups. However, if women are still concerned about the possibility, they can either avoid using powders in the genital area or use cornstarch products instead.

Myth #7: A Hysterectomy Will Prevent Ovarian Cancer

Fact: Not True

The risk of developing ovarian cancer depends on what kind of hysterectomy is performed. For instance, some procedures do not remove the ovaries, in which they have been preserved in the body. Then, the risk of ovarian cancer remains the same. In procedures such as an oophorectomy, one or more ovaries are removed. This can lower one’s risk of ovarian cancer, but a small risk remains due to the possibility of ovarian cells migrating to other areas in the pelvis. These can become cancerous later on.

Myth #8: Birth Control Pills Cause Ovarian Cancer

Fact: Not True

These pills do not cause ovarian cancer. In fact, as contraceptives reduce exposure to hormones by ensuring proper evaluation, this can actually lower ovarian cancer risk. An imbalance of hormones can contribute to the likelihood of cancer. Therefore, birth control pills may have a protective effect instead.

Myth #9: Ovarian Cancer Only Affects Those Who Have Not Borne Children

Fact: Not True

Not having children does increase the risk of ovarian cancer. However, it does not mean that having borne children means that one is safe. Ovarian cancer is something that can affect women of all ages and reproductive histories.

First Steps to Take Care of Ovarian Health

At large, every woman is at risk of ovarian cancer. However, there are some steps that can be taken to reduce your risk of the disease. For instance, these are some of the key lifestyle factors that you could control:

  • Maintain a weekly exercise routine and a healthy diet, with foods rich in Vitamin D
  • Taking oral contraceptives (to consult your physician to ascertain if this is the best method for you)
  • Avoiding the use and exposure of tobacco products
  • Limit consumption of alcohol

Receiving Home Care With Homage

Should you or a loved one be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, this can cause anxiety and worries. Therefore, in order to provide the best and professional care, it would be wise to consider Homage. Homage’s team is filled with certified professionals and are able to carry out care in the comfort of one’s home.

If you are interested to find out more, fill up the form below to get a free care consultation with our care advisor!


References

About the Writer
Katherine Khaw
Katherine is an avid reader, finding joy in halls of words. Aside from the imagination wandering in worlds not here, she enjoys stargazing and gardening. In her heart of hearts, she aspires to be a writer, and to be more than mere dust.
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